This plot shows how the motion of Proxima Centauri toward and away from Earth is changing with time over the first half of 2016. Sometimes Proxima Centauri is approaching Earth at about 3 miles per hour (5 kph) — normal human walking pace — and at times receding at the same speed. This regular pattern of changing radial velocities repeats with a period of 11.2 days.
This infographic compares the orbit of the planet around Proxima Centauri (Proxima b) with the same region of our solar system. Proxima Centauri is smaller and cooler than the Sun and the planet orbits much closer to its star than Mercury. As a result, it lies well within the habitable zone, where liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/G. Coleman
This artist’s impression shows the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image between the planet and Proxima itself. Proxima b is a little more massive than Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image to the upper-right of Proxima itself. Proxima b is a little more massive than Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
An image based on a supercomputer simulation of the cosmological environment where primordial gas undergoes the direct collapse to a black hole. The gas flows along filaments of dark matter that form a cosmic web connecting structures in the early universe. The first galaxies formed at the intersection of these dark matter filaments (Aaron Smith/TACC/UT-Austin)
Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) image of the 11 million year old Upper Scorpius Star forming region. The two bright stars are Nu Scorpii (left) and Beta Scorpii (right), both likely members of Upper Scorpius. The cloudy region around Nu Scorpii is a reflection nebula; residual dust from recent star formation as well as interstellar dust is reflecting light from the bright star. A zoom-in inset is shown around the star K2-33b, with the planet host circled in red.
This image shows the K2-33 system, and its planet K2-33b, compared to our own solar system. The planet has a five-day orbit, whereas Mercury orbits our sun in 88 days. The planet is also nearly 10 times closer to its star than Mercury is to the Sun. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
K2-33b, shown in this illustration, is one of the youngest exoplanets detected to date. It makes a complete orbit around its star in about five days. These two characteristics combined provide exciting new directions for planet-formation theories. K2-33b could have formed on a farther out orbit and quickly migrated inward. Alternatively, it could have formed in situ, or in place.
The blue-white dot at the center of this image is supernova 2012cg, seen by the 1.2-meter telescope at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory. At 50 million light-years away, this supernova is so distant that its host galaxy, the edge-on spiral NGC 4424, appears here as only an extended smear of purple light. Credit: Peter Challis/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA
A view of part of the Hyades open star cluster from the Digitized Sky Survey. The Hyades is the closest open star cluster to Earth. It is visible in the night sky in the horns of the constellation Taurus, the bull. (A. Mann/McDonald Obs./DSS)